First published in AMS business magazine. Author:Paul Anstiss

Amstelveen: a new home for Canon

Amstelveen is the location for Canon’s operational headquarters for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), and employs around 700 people from 46 different nationalities. Although the company is Japanese, its international reach means that everyone at the plant uses English to communicate. Site Manager and Senior Vice President of Business Operations (EMEA) Perry Buenen says that the Amsterdam Area attracts a diverse range of talent from around the world, also claiming it as a good location for doing business with the rest of the EMEA region. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is just 13 kilometres away, and all the logistics and operational support for Canon in the EMEA region are planned from Amstelveen. From the Netherlands, Canon distributes to 120 markets in 30 different countries. However, Buenen says it isn’t just the location that is appealing: ‘The fact-based, data-driven, rational approach is very Japanese. But it is very Dutch at the same time. I think that the focus on quality and longer-term orientation is very applicable to Japanese companies in general; and the international environment, particularly in this region, is very attractive.’

Helping the Amsterdam community thrive

Canon encourages involvement in the local community through joining in local activities and maintaining a good relationship with the local municipality and other stakeholders. It follows a philosophy first popularised by the former chairman of Canon Inc., Ryuzaburo Kaku. In Japanese it’s known as Kyosei or ‘working and living together for the common good’. Canon believes that whatever good it does for society is ultimately good for the company, and that Kyosei has helped Canon grow into the successful multinational corporation that it is today. 

Buenen claims Amstelveen has also become a home away from home for Japanese expats: ‘I think one of the reasons why the Japanese community likes this area is because of the facilities – medical facilities, educational facilities such as the International School of Amsterdam, shops, good restaurants (even Japanese ones), work-life balance, housing… It’s all these kinds of things that make it enjoyable for the Japanese to live here. In general, it’s a good life.’

Planning for Canon's future in the city

The design and manufacture of traditional SLR cameras and office printers remains the lion’s share of the company’s portfolio. However, Canon recognises that it must diversify its interests if it is to remain relevant in the fast-moving technological age. It has acquired companies such as Milestone Systems to develop camera surveillance technology through image-processing software. More recently, it also acquired Toshiba Medical to add to the existing Canon Medical healthcare-focused business. It provides specialist lenses (OLED) for use in a wide variety of (industrial) products and, through the acquisition of Océ in 2009, Canon is a strong player in the field of commercial printing. Buenen says it’s about applying Canon’s core strengths to new and exciting business areas. ‘Of course, we recognise the impact of user smartphones, for sure. But Canon has laid out a strategic plan to ensure that in the long term we will respond to those implications by adding new business areas to our existing portfolios, such as life sciences, security and other areas where we can use our core technology. Ultimately, you will see a shift, but the camera market is still very important to us and we will continue to make significant investment there as well as in new areas.’ As for Amstelveen, Buenen says Canon and its workforce are very happy there. 

Canon in Amstelveen:

  • Operational headquarters and warehouse for Europe, the Middle East and Africa
  • Located in Amstelveen since 1988
  • Circa. 700 employees
  • 46 nationalities
  • Language spoken: English
  • Main functions: Business Operations, IT, Pro - curement, Canon Medical, part of Consumer Imaging business for the Netherlands and the spare parts warehouse
  • Diverse range of business: Office Imaging, Professional Imaging, Consumer Imaging, Net - work Cameras, Commercial Printing, Medical Systems, Industrial Products
  • Reuters named Canon among its Top 100 Global Tech Leaders 2018
  • Demonstrated its innovative printing technology by printing a copy of Johannes Vermeer’s iconic ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring‘ for the Mauritshuis Museum in The Hague